Cruelty Sentencing Campaign

Battersea’s campaign for increased maximum sentences for acts of animal cruelty (also originally known as the ‘Not Funny campaign’) began in 2017 with a research report highlighting the need for tougher deterrents for the crime.

What we did

Previously, such acts could only be met with a maximum six-month term, a penalty not proportionate to the serious nature of the crime, and out of step with tougher possible sentences for other offences. We were calling instead for five-year maximum terms to be introduced.

By the autumn of 2017 the Government had committed to delivering this, but it faced a rocky road in the following years, including being derailed by both the prorogation of Parliament and a General Election in 2019, and eventually made its way back as Private Member’s Bill in 2020.

All the while, Battersea was working with supportive MPs and Members of the Scottish Parliament from across all the major political parties to help deliver change, including through parliamentary receptions, debate briefings and pledges. We also engaged the support of thousands of Battersea supporters across the United Kingdom to make clear that it was time for change.

The new laws ultimately came into effect in the summer of 2020 in Scotland, and the following year in England and Wales.

Delivering change

Find out how we made change happen in our campaign video.

What’s next?

The law has changed but our work is not complete. The new sentences will have to be reviewed by the Sentencing Council across England and Wales, an independent body who will advise how they should be applied in practice. Battersea will press on to make sure that tougher sentences for the worst offences are a reality, not just a legal possibility.

You can find updates on our work by following our Battersea Public Affairs Twitter account and by signing up for Battersea campaign updates.